My temporary life

I’m currently temping at a small, dare I say, boutique law firm in upper Manhattan, which is a little weird for me since I haven’t had a real (read: non-performance related) job since before I moved to New York in 2008.

When the Boss Lady (BL) hired me she said they were looking for a temporary receptionist to answer the phones, handle the mail, make the bank deposits, etc.… Easy stuff. Well within my wheelhouse and limited skill set.

I was slightly puzzled however, when on my first day I noticed that the email signature they created for me read: ‘Sarah (I still can’t remember if I’ve ever used my last name on this blog), Executive assistant/Paralegal.’ Paralegal? I’m pretty sure I can’t be a paralegal because a) I don’t recall ever receiving any type of special training (which I’m guessing you need) and b) I don’t even know what a paralegal is. Unless it involves picking up the BL’s dry cleaning, returning her recent purchases from Pier 1 Imports, or faxing her mother-in-law a copy of the Fire Island Ferry schedule, in which case I’m the best paralegal ever.

Other than that, it’s just a matter of answering the phone, taking messages and trying not to screw anything up. To guard against said screw-ups, I typically start every phone conversation with one of two stock greetings: ‘Law Offices of Whoosie and Whatsie, this is Sarah – it’s my first day!’ or ‘Hi there, I don’t understand these new fangled internet phones and I apologize in advance for hanging up on you.’ I figure you can get by with the, ‘it’s my first day’ shtick for at least two weeks so I’m totally set.

(Not to gloat or anything, but the money she’s paying me to do these menials tasks is just stupid. I would’ve taken the job for half of what she offered. Of course I’m not about to tell her that.)

I’m almost sad that this is my last week. I’m starting to like the routine and the security of a regular paycheck, but I’m sure I would feel differently if there weren’t a distinct end date in sight.

So, while I’m still on the job (literally – I’m sitting at my desk right now) I thought I’d give you a taste of a typical day in my temporary life.

7am – Wake up with every intention of doing yoga.

8:35am – Actually get up.

8:45am – Okay, really get up this time.

8:46am – Frantically shower, brush teeth and get dressed (all at the same time.)

9:15am – Hop on the train. (More like, shimmy between all the other irritated, sweaty people crowding into the subway.)

9:33am – Purchase daily breakfast juice from the juice cart guy at Columbus Circle. (I order a medium every day and every day he gives me a large juice and tells me I’m pretty 🙂 )

9:37am – Enjoy a pleasant walk across the park, whilst trying not to pass out from the acrid smell of manure wafting on the sweltering breeze from the horse-drawn carriages lined up on Central Park South.

9:52am – Arrive at the office (8 minutes early!).

10am: Check voicemail and email (usually there aren’t any), then sit around for several hours until BL comes in. (There are at least two days a week when she doesn’t come in at all. Those are my ‘bring a book’ days.)

1pm: Look busy and important for a little while. (It’s usually around this time that I’m roused from my book either by the arrival of BL, the phone ringing or my stomach rumbling. Luckily, in the case of the latter, the previous assistant left an ancient jar of peanuts in the desk drawer. I’ve eaten almost all of them.)

2:15pm: Mail call! This is the time of day when the mailman comes. It’s exciting for me because what with sorting, delivering and opening (yup, I said opening) all the mail, I’m gonna have something to do for a solid five minutes.

3pm(ish): Run errands. This is my favorite time of day because I get to leave the office. There are usually some checks that need to be deposited or some important legal documents that need to be sent via certified mail (which requires a trip to the post office) or some highly important dry cleaning that needs to be collected, so I get to wander around the swanky Upper East Side and look at all the shops on 5th Avenue – and get paid for it!

Today was particularly eventful:

  • I elbowed three German tourists on my way to the bank. No, I wasn’t in any particular hurry. I just figured I owed them an authentic New York experience. Now they have a story about your stereotypical angry New Yorker to take back with them to Deutschland. (Look at all the good I do!)
  • I gave a dollar to the blind guy who sometimes plays the saxophone outside of Barney’s. I feel bad for that guy. He has to compete with the homeless guy with the mangy dog, a double amputee AND a pregnant lady who houses all of them in terms of donations. (If this whole singing/acting/blogging thing doesn’t work out, pregnant panhandler is totally going to be my new fallback plan.)
  • I also stopped to watch a troupe of acrobatic dancers who were performing in the square across from the Plaza Hotel while their compatriots robbed all the tourists.

4:37pm: Stop at the Chinese deli for a late lunch on my way back to the office. It’s hot and loud in the deli so I always eat lunch at my desk.

5pm: Run out the clock and hope BL doesn’t have anything else for me to do.

6:00pm (on the dot): Quittin’ time! I usually stop at the fruit cart in front of the office and buy a peach for my walk back across the park to the train. (There is a much closer train to the office, but it involves taking a downtown train that will take me far enough west to transfer to an uptown train which is a pain. I prefer to walk anyhow. Besides, sometimes I run into Big Bird on the way home!)


Only four and a half more days until my temp life is over and I go back to my regular life of opera singing, background acting and hair modeling! Oh! And sitting around in coffe shops for hours pretending to be a writer.

I wonder if I’m ever going to have to grow up?

3 thoughts on “My temporary life

  1. Temping can be awesome. You get the decent pay, the comfortable office, and none of that pesky soul sucking I’m here forever feeling. Or if you do, it’s not long before you leave.

  2. My gosh, I clearly need a paralegal to help me do all my pesky stuff! (And they gave you that title so the BL would be able to justify your payment… and maybe even pass it on to the clients.) Officially you are not REQUIRED to have any training to be a paralegal at all. I have no troop training, but I often refer to myself as a paratrooper. And sometimes if there are two of us together, we are a pair o’… never mind.

    If you want an internship as the exec assistant (virtual) for the CEO of an electronic publishing company, give me a call. No, seriously… I don’t think I can pay yet, but it would be fun and you would learn a lot and I’d help you publish your own writing. If you do a really good job, I’ll maybe dress up as Big Bird.

  3. Pingback: It’s never a good sign when I have to re-enter my password to gain access to my blog. | Frivolity On The Edge

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